When Mean Christians Happen to Good People

I guess when Donald Trump gave his acceptance speech for his nomination as the Republican presidential candidate at last year’s RNC, when he said that he would work to protect the rights of the “L…..G…..BT…..Q….community,” that he was either lying, didn’t quite grasp what “working to protect” meant, or he didn’t fully anticipate that 81% of the people who would vote for him would be white evangelicals who don’t want him to work to protect those rights. But being that he exhibits all the telltale traits of being a gaslighting narcissist–lacking empathy and compassion and a conscience, and constantly calling people’s grasp of reality into question by denying videotape and transcript and Twitter-feed evidence, and calling it fake news–he most likely had no intention to, and doesn’t care what he promised. To be very clear, I am not a mental health clinician, I’m simply a guy who has done a lot of research on the topics of gaslighting and narcissistic personality disorder and abuse. (Trust me. If you were mentally, emotionally, and spiritually abused by one, you’d do a lot of research into the topic yourself.) But also, I work with a bunch of mental health specialists for a living. So I’m not just throwing out provocative catch words, hoping you’ll be impressed. At the end of the day, the dude may just be a mindless jerk, who has tapped into the hearts of other mindless jerks. (Some of them, I assume, are good people.)

I would love to be optimistic right now, and say that he’s on a year-long learning curve, and he’s just learning how to be presidential, but unfortunately I can’t. I can simply look at how he ran his campaign, and say that all the evidence shows that he really is, amongst everything else, a hate-mongering bigot. Just the way he responded to the allegations of sexual misconduct–accusing his accusers of being gold diggers–should show the content of this man’s character and heart. At the end of it all, because it will meet his narcissistic supply and make him so happy, he will cater to those who love him just as much as he loves himself, but everyone else will be overlooked or discriminated against.

Take the latest story about Trumpelstiltskin banning certain words at the CDC. A story broke that the terms “fetus,” “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “evidence-based,” and “science-based” are now forbidden to be used by the CDC. Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, the director of the CDC has denied this claim, stating on Twitter, “I want to assure you there are no banned words at CDC. We will continue to talk about all our important health programs.” So there is a glimmer of hope here; however, this wouldn’t be the first time the CDC was forbidden from doing its job to its fullest capacity (even taking Dr. Fitzgerald’s statement into consideration). In the 90s, the Dickey Amendment was passed so that no funds could be allocated to the CDC for research into gun violence, because everybody’s favorite billion dollar lobbyist group was worried that this research would then be used to craft legislation about guns. I know! Imagine the audacity of Congress making an educated decision on legislation, and possibly making it more difficult to get a gun. My heart doth break.

So let’s meet in the middle here, and say that maybe this story isn’t true. Maybe this is a story that the Washington Post got wrong. Even the best journalists can get it wrong. I mean, look at Hannity, Right! But the Post is known for its extensive fact checking before it publishes a story. (A few weeks ago, a person trying to discredit the Post was themselves easily discredited by the Post’s fact checking department.)

On the other hand, maybe it is a true story, and Dr. Fitzgerald, in her own way, is saying that no amount of pressure by the executive branch will hinder the CDC, because public health is more important than presidential ego. Why would a newspaper that is currently under attack as being fake news publish a story that isn’t true? So it’s safe to say that there may be some merit to the claim.

So, I would like to hope that the story is false, but given the M.O. of this administration, I wouldn’t put it passed them. And if it’s true, what does that say about this administration? Nobody finds it odd that the very people who call themselves “The Resistance,” are also the target of this supposed vocabulary ban? And if it is indeed true that the CDC is forbidden from these words, isn’t it a reasonable conclusion that according to this administration, the health and wellness of those who would use such words, or those who belong to such groups, deserve to be discriminated against by the highest office in the land?

Another word for it is Christian Privilege. If I were among those 81% white evangelicals who voted for this man, I’d feel so cared for. I wasn’t forbidden from wishing people a merry Christmas, but thank God we can finally say it again! There will be a nativity in the White House for the first time since… 2016. And finally, an administration who matches my version of Christianity. I would be in paradise right now.

But since I do not count myself amongst this particular group, and I am not easily swayed by political candidates who call themselves Christians, and many of my friends are the ones who make up the “bad group,” this is yet another straw on an already overloaded camel’s back. And my M.O. is usually to let my Snark Flag fly in these situations. But, ironically, not toward The Great and Powerful Walking Block of American Cheese. The more this presidency goes on, the more emboldened stupid Christians become. And when stupid Christians speak, they prove what it is they actually worship.

For example, the more I read these Christians’ responses to people on my team, the more I’m convinced that they are biblically illiterate. Oh, they’ll read it. But rest assured, they aren’t interpreting what they are reading. And when you read Scripture without doing the work of figuring out its meaning, you can make Scripture, and therefore God, say anything you want it to say. The most frequent example I can provide are discussion threads in which these certain Christians will insult and abuse the people they are talking to, especially if those people are liberal millennials, but if that person says one cross thing about Trump–not Jesus, the Bible, or anything about the Christian faith–those Christians reply with, “That’s mean, hateful, and unloving. And you’re not a true Christian for saying it.” Because apparently you aren’t supposed to call the president a brainless moron…if his name isn’t Barack Obama. And that just points out more of the hypocrisy of this group. But it’s damn near impossible to challenge them on it, because they’ve so married their faith to a political party, that, as I’ve said in other posts, to question their politics is to question their faith.

But I have to always laugh so hard when they say things like, “You can’t be a Christian and say mean things.” And my response is generally, “I guess you don’t read the Bible much, especially the prophets and gospels.” Some of the prophets compared the wealthy women in their community to donkeys sniffing the wind in heat. Other prophets said that God’s people were acting like shameless whores. Jesus called the religious elite of his day white washed tombs, and still worse, sons of the devil. There’s even a whole section of Woes (essentially divine curses) toward these elite men of faith. The apostle Paul called one group a bunch of mangy mongrel dogs, running around the street nipping at people’s heels. So perhaps it’s not the actual words that we use that are the problem. Perhaps the actual problem, other than a misunderstanding of Scripture, is that these Christians don’t like that their guy is the one being made fun of, and not the one they want it be. Or maybe it’s the implication that they helped make all this happen, but they don’t want to take responsibility for their vote. And they’re the ones constantly accusing liberals of only hearing what they want to hear!

But to bring it back to privilege and the CDC, it’s not unloving in and of itself to say not so nice things about people. Especially when those people are discriminating against groups of people based on age, race, gender, religion, country of origin, and sexuality. Preventing the CDC from operating at its fullest capacity just so the 4-5 can appease the 81% white evangelicals who voted for him seems a little more hate-full than calling him a petulant man child with a Twitter account. His ego is at risk. These groups’ health and wellness is at risk. He’s supposed to represent 318 million people. These groups are supposed to live with the Human Rights God has given them. He is a public servant. These groups are the public he serves. If he doesn’t like that, he can always go back to being a reality tv show host. And if those certain Christians don’t like that, perhaps they can finally meet the Jesus of the Bible who was unjustly arrested, tried by a kangaroo court, and murdered in the most humiliating and painful way possible.

As for those in The Resistance: The greatest weapon in resistance is hope. And the greatest hope I can offer you is that the Jesus of the Bible–the Jesus that actually existed in history–is nothing like what mainstream Christianity makes him out to be. That Jesus is a sociopath who has no compassion or conscience, and is a raging narcissist. The Jesus that existed in history, the one who was a flesh and blood homeless Jewish preacher from Nazareth, was called the bastard son of a whore, and was ultimately murdered because he had the audacity to say that God is far more compassionate than what was being peddled. That Jesus decided to choose grace and mercy and love over power and praise. And since you’ll never get one from them, I would like to offer my sincerest apology on behalf of all reasonable Christians, for how that group treated you. You didn’t deserve to be the latest target of their hate. Jesus would never treat a person that way.

Peace!

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Jesus Of Nazareth, PA

The older I get (I’m only 33), the more I’m amazed at how things keep coming full circle. Most of us, I’m fairly certain, can say that we see it most often with fashion. Once, when I was in college, a classmate was rocking his brand new penny loafers with utmost pride, as if he had just discovered the latest and greatest in men’s footwear. And then Dr. Murray, who, being from Texas, only knew one way to address an issue – bluntly – said,  “Hey! I remember when those became popular when I was in grade school…IN THE SIXTIES!!!” I don’t think I ever saw those penny loafers again. 

(Note: For those wanting to bring back the 80s, you do you, but please, for the love of all things kind, leave the hairstyles and rock music alone. We never need to see those come full circle.) 

I became a Christian in the late nineties. And what I remember about every youth related material for churches, is that they all centered around the mantra “Let your walk match your talk.” (Ironically, the one man in my life who pounded that drum the loudest at that time, is very often a complete jerk. But I digress.) But, despite hearing that phrase every week for years, for whatever reason, one day I stopped hearing it for the next 15 years. 

And then 2016 came along, with its polarizing election. 

After the numbers were fully tallied, it was found that 80% of white evangelicals voted for The Donald (give or take a percentage or two). Either word you choose to focus on (white or Evangelical), that number is way too much support for a man who openly ran his campaign on lies, fake news articles, racism, bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny. In a recent article for Christianity Today, missiologist Ed Stetzer pointed out that such a large number has potentially damaged the witness of white Christians for years to come. Both Stetzer and philosopher and theologian Peter Rollins have each pointed out that, while this number is staggering and heartbreaking, it is important to remember that not every white evangelical voted for him because of his hateful rhetoric. Some voted because they thought they were choosing the lesser of two evils (better a man who says bad things, than a woman who does bad things). Others voted out of desperation, because they felt left behind by Democrats. Still others, because they were hoping he would make good on his promise to select pro-life judges for the Supreme Court. Both Stetzer and Rollins cautioned against treating every Trump supporter the same. (Rollins himself, living in Northern Ireland, had just experienced the fallout of Brexit.) This was also a similar message that Martin Luther King had in his “I Have a Dream” speech, in which he warned people of color not to treat all white people as racist, because some of them were actually in the trenches with them. 

I do not want to paint all 80% with the brush of hate. But, Christians in general, and that 80% specifically must  do some genuine soul searching. 

As Christians, we claim to be a people who love all people. And yet, we elected a man who wants to discriminate against certain people groups. 

As Christians, we claim that God loves all people, regardless of whether they love him back. And yet, we elected a man who promised success only for Christians. 

As Christians, we claim to love the truth, and hate dishonesty. And yet, we elected a man who, according to Politifact, lied 75% of the time, from the moment he stepped off that escalator, to his victory speech. 

As Christians, we claim to be a people who love the least of these. And yet, we elected a man (and a congress) who wants to strip the least of these of the basic human right of healthcare, and dump them with the weight of the nation’s tax burden. 

As Christians, we claim Jesus’ words that leaders must be humble. That to be first, we must be last. And yet, we elected a man whose whole life is a living monument to himself. 

As Christians, we claim a savior who has broken down the walls of hostility. And yet, we elected a man who wants to erect them. 

As Christians, we remember the quiet witness of Mary, the mother of Jesus. And yet, we elected a man who has a long history of treating women as objects for his own sexual gratification. 

Christians, we have so much soul searching to do as it is, given our own history. But you 80% have a major uphill battle ahead of you. For you allowed a man’s words to speak louder than his actions. 

Christian leaders, especially Franklin Graham, James Dobson, James MacDonald, Mike Huckabee, and Ben Carson, must answer for their clear partisan politics done in the name of non-profit status. Being a baby Christian does not excuse human indecency. And you must consider the implications of your choices. 

We must allow that old mantra to come full circle, especially if we are going to claim any faith in a God who wants to draw all people to himself. 

I conclude with the words of a new song. 

I met a man from Nazareth,       who called himself Jesus.             But since he was from PA,                  I knew they weren’t the same.  Just because you claim a name, don’t mean that’s who you are. There’s a Paris, Texas.                   And an Eden, Caroline.                 I’ve spent some time in Vegas,   But never crossed Nevada lines. Just because you claim a name, don’t mean you are that one. 

Call it good, bad, or evil,                    a rose is still a rose.                    These stems, thorns, and petals still warm a lover’s heart.            Call them anything you want,    they are just what they are.    These stems, thorns, and petals still warm a lover’s heart. 

Preacher man opened The Book,  And screamed about his God.        He looked for some souls to save, But barred them at the gate.            Just because you claim a name,     Don’t mean you represent.              There’s Benedict Arnold,                 And Judas Iscariot.                             Brutus was Caesar’s friend,               But stabbed him in the back.            Just because you claim a name,         Don’t mean you will next time. 

Call it good, bad, or evil,                     A rose is still a rose.                             These stems, thorns, and petals,        Still warm a lover’s heart.                 Call them anything you want,              They are just what they are.                These stems, thorns, and petals,         Still warm a lover’s heart. 

Actions speak louder than words,   Or have you never heard?              You can speak in angels’ tongues,    But beat your brother numb.          Just because you claim The Name,  Don’t mean you love his world.     There’s no shortage of evil,               And wickedness abounds.                 But the worst kind of sinners,          Were born and raised in church.     Just because you claim a name,      Don’t mean you really are. 

Call it good, bad, or evil,                     A rose is still a rose.                          These stems, thorns, and petals,        Still warm a lover’s heart.                 Call them anything you want, they are just what they are.                    These stems, thorns, and petals,       Still warm a lover’s heart. 

I met a man from Nazareth,             Who called himself Jesus.                  But since he was from PA,                 I knew they weren’t the same.